This book was featured in my Book Beginnings on Friday last week. And now, here it is – my review of Nisha J. Tuli’s Heart of Night and Fire!
Book: Heart of Night and Fire
Author: Nisha J. Tuli
Pub Day: Sept 15th 2023
About the book:
A city of magic. A passion born in dreams. A secret that will set their world aflame.
Packed with enemies-to-lovers tension, heart-pounding action and devastating twists, The Nightfire Quartet is an epic fantasy romance that begins with a slow burn and builds in intensity. Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Jennifer L. Armentrout and Carissa Broadbent.
For years, Zarya has been trapped in a gilded prison. Her magic is forbidden, a dangerous secret—though nobody will explain why. Now she is ready to break free and find the truth.
Escaping to the dazzling city of Dharati, Zarya discovers a new world of enchantment and intrigue. With the help of seductive, blood-drinking rakshasa and magic-weaving Aazheri sorcerers, she searches for answers.
But the city is under siege. Every night, dark creatures attack. And since Zarya’s arrival they are growing stronger. To protect her new home, Zarya joins the fight.
As she battles on the walls and hunts through libraries for clues about her gifts, Zarya’s dreams are haunted by a mysterious stranger. Powerful, arrogant and handsome, Rabin sees through her secrets and ignites a desire she cannot resist. But can he be trusted?
When darkness threatens to overwhelm Dharati, Zarya is faced with a deadly choice. Will revealing her magic save the city? Or destroy everything she loves?
This is the first of Nisha J. Tuli’s books that I’ve read, but it won’t be the last! (Especially since this one is first in a quartet! Three more books of this delicious fantasy world! Woo hoo!)
Zarya has grown up a captive, held in an idyllic location. But as the book says, “It wasn’t an unpleasant prison, but a firefly trapped in even the most ornate jar would still die without air.” She’s been raised by Row and trained alongside his apprentice Aarav. Row won’t tell Zarya anything about her upbringing, just that it’s imperative no one know where she is, and he sets magical boundaries in place to keep her from leaving (because she tries). She and Aarav aren’t on good terms, and she chafes at her lack of freedom. Then one day, Row is gone, and so are the magical boundaries. Zarya takes Row’s horse and takes off fast as she can, heading for the city of Dharati. She wanted adventure, freedom, a chance to truly live? She surely finds it.
Nisha J. Tuli has crafted a beautiful world here, based on Indian/South Asian mythology. I don’t know a lot about the culture and history, but we’ve recently taken an interest in Bollywood/Hindi cinema (my apologies if this isn’t the most current term) and really enjoyed them, so I’m interested in stories with similar settings. Tuli’s word does not disappoint! I could almost see the things she described, almost smell and taste the foods. She does a top-tier job of creating her universe.
Another thing I found intriguing was the process Tuli created by which a new monarch takes the throne. I don’t recall seeing anything comparable in other books. When Princess Amrita took the throne, it hurt my heart, because her becoming queen is life-changing in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
And I know it isn’t the romance, but I adored the relationship developing between Zarya and Yasen! At first he is very gruff to her, sometimes almost rude. But as the story progresses, they warm up to each other and become almost like siblings. I hope we see more of that in future books. I think Zarya will need someone who can balance her, encourage her, and kick her butt when she needs it.
I’ve seen some reviews expressing disappointment in Zarya’s actions and attitude, opining that she acts more like a teenager than a 20/21-year-old. I agree that she did seem very naive and overly emotional in some ways. But think about it. She’s spent pretty much all of life that she remembers closeted away from the world, with no one to help her mature emotionally. Of course she acts younger than her age. She doesn’t know how to do otherwise. She starts out as so many of us do when we’re young, thinking that life is one big adventure, romance is all rose-colored glasses, and everyone is looking out for our best interests. She’s learning otherwise. I think she’ll grow up and mature just fine.
The identity of the love interest really blew me away. I did NOT see it coming, and this is a romance that will definitely be enemies to lovers. Zarya and Rabin didn’t meet face to face until near the end of the book, so I’m not sure if it’s going to be a slow burn or a raging inferno. Either way, I’m here to see how it plays out!
As this is my first book by Tuli, I won’t yet say she’s on my super short list of favorite authors. She’s sure making a run for it, though. Heart of Night and Fire is a solid four-star read for me, and I’m ready for the rest of the Nightfire Quartet!
Thanks to Second Sky and NetGalley for an advance review copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.
About the author:
Nisha is a Canadian fantasy romance author, whose books feature kick ass heroines, swoony love interests, and slow burns with plenty of heat. Fans of The Princess Bride and A Court of Thorns and Roses will find themselves at home in her worlds.
She loves to draw upon her Indian heritage to bring her stories to life, weaving together vibrant and compelling characters, settings, and plotlines. Nisha wants to leave her readers breathless and begging for more and enjoys making her characters suffer before giving them a much-deserved happily ever after.
When she’s not writing or exploring, Nisha can be found enjoying travel, food, and camping with her partner, two kids, and their fluffy Samoyed.